The Reeler‘s Stu Van Airsdale, on fire after his Chinese paparazzi run-in two or three weeks ago, bitch-slapped director Michael Haneke following a screening of his original 1997 version of Funny Games (which Maneke has remade in English for Warner Independent) at the kick-off of MoMA’s Modern Mondays program.
“Haneke loves to think of himself as a master manipulator,” Van Airsdale writes. “But adherence to convention is not the same thing as smugness, which is why Funny Games‘ climactic upshot — wife Anna (Susanne Lothar) steals a gun and blows one of her assailants away, only to have the survivor grab the VCR remote control, rewind the film, anticipate the coup and wrest the firearm away — is such a gross betrayal. Almost to the end of his grueling psychological horror film, Haneke introduces a time machine.
“In fairness, the MoMA audience clapped in support of her attack, and the filmmaker got the sense of deflation he wanted after its sudden reversal. But this isn’t exactly a spiritual precedent to the paralyzing movie-within-a-movie in [Haneke’s] Code Unknown, or the surveillance-cum-class war propelling Cache. Instead it’s the cheapest, most embarrassing technical stunt of Haneke’s career.”